I love moving. Not moving myself – that sucks. I love to help other people move. Not, like, as the solid guy you can always count on to help out in a pinch – as the guy who actively, enthusiastically, wants to spend the afternoon helping you schlep box after box of your accumulated possessions up three flights of stairs. I’ve been known to be personally insulted when friends have hired movers. I’ve been known to show up uninvited to people’s moving, just to see if I can lend a hand. It is legitimately one of my favorite activities.
Most people find this strange. Helping friends move is a social obligation, mitigated by pizza and beer at the end, which you begrudgingly do for others so that you won’t be that asshole who doesn’t help your friends move. It’s not an overall net positive to your weekend like, say, reading the paper with a long cup of coffee, or not going to work. Except for me. I actively look forward to the last weekend of the month, because there’s a better chance someone will ask me to help them move that weekend.
I know this is strange. I know you’re shaking your head right now. Let me explain. I’ve come up with the following three reasons:
1) Moving is productive exercise
This is, by far, the biggest one. I like to exercise. Endorphins, mind/body being in sync, all that stuff. Most people, I think, like to exercise. We’re built with that positive feedback loop – your body is there to be used, use it and your body feels good, and it also gets easier to use. We’re designed to be physical creatures, back to the days of the hunter/gatherers.
But human beings back then had a POINT to exercising, like catching that boar that would feed their tribe for the next 3 days, or running away from the marauding nomadic horde. But going to a gym has no purpose beyond just exercising. Nothing gets done – after thirty minutes of running on the treadmill you’re in the exact same place you started, just sweatier and bored out of your mind. You haven’t won anything, you haven’t accomplishing anything, there’s no dead boar you can cook for dinner.
Moving provides a hefty sense of progress and accomplishment to your exercise. You can see the van filling and then un-filling, they previously full rooms now just a dirty broom and the wads of dried gum you stuck behind the headboard. All that sweat has a POINT to it.
2) Moving engages in non-toxic masculinity.
I like being, for lack of a better term, a guy. I like being strong. I like climbing random things. I like being dirty and scruffy and not caring when I’ve scraped my knee or cut my hand and am bleeding all over myself (or, to be fair, all over your furniture I’m currently hauling down the block). I like hitting my little brother on the arm and shouting “Fuerte!” at him when he wants to take a break while we’re on a hiking trip. It’s super fun.
Now, many times guys sometimes express their masculinity is really bad and unhealthy ways – usually known as toxic masculinity. That stuff is no fun. For anyone. Definitely not for women, but also not really for men either.
But luckily, that’s not the only kind of masculinity! You can instead express masculinity in fun, productive, and non-toxic or oppressive ways. Like moving! You get to be strong, dirty, and hit your brother for slacking, while not reinforcing the patriarchy, engaging in needless violence, or treating half the population as sub-human. Good times.
3) Moving helps the bonding process.
There’s an old cliché, “women bond by talking, men bond by doing.” While it’s debatable if this cliché is actually true, many people, including myself, do bond by actually doing something together instead of just chit-chatting away. The problem is that while there are a whole lot of opportunities to talk to people, there are very few opportunities to actually DO much of anything. Most of us aren’t in the 1989 Detroit Pistons, Patton’s 3rd Army, the Avengers, or other units of cohesion in which people work together to achieve a common purpose. Maybe we have a “team” (emphasis on the sarcastic quotes) at work, but there is generally very little glory in really nailing that presentation to marketing.
One of the small shadows of this active bonding left to us ordinary Americans is helping people move. One time I showed up to a friend’s house to help her move in. Her brother and I were the only two people with a reasonable degree of strength and muscular endurance, so we silently, and somewhat smugly, slipped into the role of “heavy stuff shleppers” for the next three hours. We maybe said twenty words to each other. I would now get in a bar fight with the Hells Angels for that guy.
So if you want to be buddies, you don’t need to buy me a drink or invite me over for fondue and charades – all you need to do is mention that you happen to need a hand with that sofa. Fair warning though – my moving game is all power, no finesse. I cannot guarantee you’ll end up with everything completely intact, or without blood stains on a sofa cushion or two.